Jump to content

Thoughts on New Navigation Device


Recommended Posts

I've been mulling about posting this for a while. I work for a start-up company called Dash Navigation http://www.dash.net/ . Web site is a little over the top, but you get the idea. No, I'm not selling them, can't get you one, can't even say a whole lot about the final feature set (because I don't know). Mostly I just want your thoughts on the device. If you are new to nav, would it be interesting to you? If you already have navigation, would you consider it worth the money to switch? How do you feel about a subscription fee for actual real time traffic data, map updates, and other dynamic content? No, I'm not a marketing guy collecting info, just a hardware guy stuck in cube. I consider this forum my peers, so your opinion matters to me. We are set to ship early in the new year, and I'm curious to see what people think. I lack perspective now, I've been looking at this thing for 2 1/2 years.

Other press release stuff & current details:






Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Real time traffic" is a misnomer with the current FM based subscriptions. Yes, the data gets to you in "real time." But where the data is coming from, and how it is collected, is not real time. Current systems use sensor loop data and government traffic collection networks to provide you with information. At the very best, it currently takes about 15 minutes for the data to be collected, reported to the government(like Caltrans here in CA) traffic data centers, read by consumer news distribution centers like Inrix, and then funneled back out to devices in your car. Our goal is to knock that down to under five, always give you ETA's based on traffic conditions and not speed limits, and give multiple routes to get around problem areas. It's also important to know that each device is a floating point data collector, so the higher the saturation or devices is in an area, the better the real time content gets. If no live data is available, the device defaults to a historical traffic data model that we have been compiling for some time now (works pretty darn well). National Map will be included


We do real time a little different. The device is equipped with WiFi radio and a GPRS(cellular) radio. This allows us to always get content to the device as long as you have a cellular signal, but something tells me you aren't worried about traffic data if you aren't in cell range. Obviously, it would be too expensive to run on cellular data alone, so that's where the WiFi comes in. You can connect to your home WiFi network for larger updates, which happen automatically. You can also use a web portal to manage contacts on the device, and send new ones. A web applet lets you "send to car" by right clicking on any highlighed address, and sends the address to your device wirelessly. Very neat IMO, no more mapquest maps floating in the back of your car. The WiFi also allows "war driving," or signing on to open access points for sending and recieving data.


Can't comment on cost really, but expect it to be priced right along side Garmin and TomTom, with a subscription cost similar to XM.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sounds like a great idea. I currently own a Garmin C550, and used a Tomtom 700. Pay for traffic, I already do, but it's ~$5/mo. Would I consider switching, yes, but I'll never go back to a previous gen chip (SirfIII or comparable cold start times please! With the cellular you should be able to d/l the empheris data).


As you're probably aware garmin's using clear channel for traffic the usefulness IMO is debatable. I've heard XM traffic is better, but I haven't had the chance to use it. It sounds like Dash is going in the right direction with end-users contributing to the traffic knowledge. I haven't read anything about being able to report accidents but that'd be a good idea. Additionally being able to actually see traffic speeds on the map (ala yahoo maps with traffic) is a good idea as I know during any traffic hour take 280 if AT ALL possible, AVOID 101, but not my GPS. (FYI the pict showing SF->SJ via 680 at 58 minutes, maybe at 4 am, might want to change that before sales time.) Mutliple routes would help this.


Maps, I've never really had a problem with out-of-date map data. POI data on the other hand could be better. It's actually single reason I use my GPS at least 1-2 times a week. Where's the closest Home Depot? Grocery Store? Why can't it display them ON THE MAP? Heck the TT didn't show the direction of they were in! On-line integration... I dunno, could be great, could be gimmicky.


IMO this is the area where GPS makers could really clean up. I'm not a big fan of it, but look at how much people pay for OneStar... If yahoo YP didn't filter their listings, they'd be the killer on road app.


What do I want in a GPS? A form factor like the Nuvi 660 would be nice for travel. A 7" high res screen for the cubby would be great. Honestly recent GPS chipset, a good bright screen (C550 screen or better, the TT700 didn't cut it), good traffic, and the best POI DB possible. Bluetooth data in addition to cellular (I've got a verizon data plan).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Like spinjockey said, I already pay $30/month for my phone's data service, so I'm not keen on the idea of another monthly charge for another data service. However if the GPS device will treat my phone as a modem, then I'm happier.


I am also not real keen on dashboard mounting in general. I might be in the minority as there are a lot of these things on the market, but I'd only get something like this if I could mount it stealthily in the cubby hole or something like that. Or keep it in the glove box and mount it on the cigarette lighter socket when I need it (which wouldn't be more than a couple times a week, so maybe I'm not the target market).


Consider asking your marketing people how long a subscriber has to stay with the service in order to break even on the subscriber acquisition cost. (Have they considered selling the device with a year of service included, and asking customers to pre-pay for each additional year of service, instead?) Also ask what they expect SAC to be, and ask if they can point to any example services that have a similar SAC and/or similar monthly cost (and are those example services profitable?). Service subscriptions are hard to sell profitably, so this line of questioning could make you some enemies in the marketing department, but also some friends in the finance department.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You guys are raising good points, thanks! If I sound like I'm trying to sell this on you guys, that's not my intent. Just hoping to explain what makes our device different and hopefully better than current offerings. To the contrary, we say we can do a lot of cool stuff, and even I have my doubts about the execution of the ideas and the overall usefulness of those said features.


The Garmin Nuvi series is by far my favorite nav device right now. Very slick unit and the form factor is right on. I have used the Nuvi 350 quite a bit. Recently I used it around the LA area and found it to be intuitive and impressive. I also had the FM traffic on it, which was pretty much useless in my opinion. Really, there is traffic at the 5 / 10 interchange? Thanks for letting me know, now what. Okay, how will it impact my ETA? Can I get around it? Most traffic alerts I got where clear when I go there, and I found traffic in areas supposed to be clear. RT traffic is very, very hard to do, especially when the current sensor data is somewhat lackluster in most areas around the country.


In earlier versions of the device we allowed users to input accidents and other roadside problems (The police notify was my favorite). This was dropped along the way. The less we encourage the user to muck with the device while driving, the better (blame the litigious American way). In the end the same result will happen. The device knows if you traveled too slowly through a segment, and upload that info back to the servers. A traffic delay notice is sent back to other users who will be coming through that segment of road. This prompts an icon that offers you new routes, and travel times on those routes. Traffic delay notices can also be sent to the first user through an area based on our supplementary info coming from a source like Clear Channel (don't know who the final content provider will be, we are evaluating all). So, we created an amalgam of floating point data, sensor data, and historical data to give users the best travel times possible. In my daily commute it's never off by more than a few minutes in my 30 min drive, even with traffic.


Map data has become more important than I thought. The new construction in the Bay Area alone has convinced me. New Carpool interchanges and construction can take a year for TeleAtlas and Navteq to pick up on. Then you buy the update at some point, and it might already be out of date. Since we have communications to each device, it raises a flag in our back end that a new route is being taken through a certain segment (takes more than one user). Once we confirm the new road, the map update is sent out to the devices without you really ever knowing. In the same vein, navigation also "learns" to be more efficient and incorporates user knowledge. I know that I can take some back streets and beat freeway traffic, even though the device route takes me on the freeway. Once I take this route a few times it no longer suggests the freeway and instead knows I prefer the alternate route.


Of all the features, I like the Yahoo Local search the best. You are searching Yahoo online, so you are always getting up to date POIs. I have not found someplace that I wanted to go that wasn't in there. Anything from the nearest Starbucks, bar, restaurants, auto store, liquor store, you name it, including phone numbers. Broke a part on my motorcycle at a track day in Reno. I used the device to find every Honda dealership in the area and a phone number, I was impressed even if nobody had the part.


I'm intrigued by you thoughts on blue tooth integration. It is very possible that this may be integrated with future iterations of the device. I can imagine not wanting to pay more for a service you already have in some regards, but I would think the majority of users don't have a blue tooth phone with an unlimited data plan. We are working with another start-up who is reselling bulk data through cellular. They are one of the ways we can keep subscription costs WAY down, we all know nobody would go for the $40 data plans per phone that we are currently being charged by cellular carriers. Research also shows that most people want their device to do one thing very well, and not a device that tries to do everything in a mediocre manner.


As for how we plan to make money. I've seen lots of very conservative numbers assuming we get into national distribution channels (which I'm pretty certain we already have), and they are pretty impressive. As I said before you'll get a free subscription to start with. I'm not in marketing, so I have to tread lightly on these subjects. But, we have the marketing director who launched TiVo working here now, so I'd say there is some in house knowledge on how to get a subscription based service up and going. The closest business models to ours right now are XM and Sirius radio. In terms of SAC, our device is significantly more complicated than anything on the market, and we will be forced to be competitive with the price point of current devices. So, obviously we are depending on subscription revenue down the line to make money. I've seen lots of spread sheets & slide shows, but they don't mean much to me. :icon_conf


I too am not keen on dashboard mounted things, I also hate cables running around in my car. Until we integrate with OEM's in the future to license our technology, a dash mount stand alone device it is. As soon as the hardware settles into final production, I'll be building one into the cubby of my car. Gonna try and get 16psibrick to help with that, though my fabrication skills aren't too shabby either.


Keep it coming guys. Trying to waste time at work, almost on vacation, and I mentally checked out sometime yest

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What kind of intellectual property do you have? It would seem that anything that proves popular will be jumped on by Garmin and Magellen.


We have 6 Nuvi 660's, a Garmin 2820, and a Garmin 2720. One person uses the BlueTooth integration.


There is a cell phone based service in the greater Boston area (*1 on Verizon phones connects to SmartTraveler) that's much more responsive than the information from the Nuvi. They get info from cameras and drivers, mostly. Only major routes, though.

Who Dares Wins


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't know the specifics of the patents, but we have several. Everything from the way the WiFi works, to most of the software, & web connectivity features. Honestly, I hope we get snapped up by Garmin or TomTom, would be the quickest way for my stock options to be anything other than wallpaper.
Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...

Important Information

Terms of Use